Wales politics

Port Talbot prison should be moved to Swansea, says MP

About 200 people attended a public meeting about the proposed prison in Baglan
Image caption About 200 people attended a public meeting about the proposed prison in Baglan

The site of an old tinplate works in Swansea should be used for a prison instead of an industrial park in Port Talbot, a Labour MP has said.

More than 200 people attended a public meeting with Ministry of Justice (MoJ) officials at a hotel in Aberavon on Wednesday to discuss the proposals.

Stephen Kinnock, the area's MP, said he would rather Felindre Business Park was used instead of Baglan Industrial Park.

A Plaid Cymru AM accused Mr Kinnock of being the "grand archduke of nimbyism".

Mr Kinnock and his Aberavon constituency colleague David Rees have previously appealed to the Welsh Government not to sell the land at Baglan.

BBC Wales has seen a letter in which the MoJ confirms the proposed prison will be designated Category C, due to lack of spaces for the inmates in existing south Wales' jails.

It is understood it will house up to 1,600 prisoners, however this has not been confirmed by the MoJ.

During the meeting concerns were again raised by residents about the proximity of the site to schools and homes, and a petition was started calling on the Welsh Government not to sell the land to the MoJ.

Mr Kinnock said the UK government should "scrap the plans for Baglan" and move the prison to Felindre, the site of an old tinplate works near junction 46 of the M4 that is also owned by the Welsh Government.

Image caption The Welsh Government had put forward a list of 20 sites

Mr Kinnock said the brownfield site - one of a short list of three chosen from 20 sites submitted to the MoJ by the Welsh Government - has its own M4 junction.

"The Ministry of Justice has already told us that the Felindre site came 'a close second' to Baglan," he said.

He said the site would meet "far less resistance" from the community, given it is not in the middle of a residential area and business park, rather than any at all.

Asked why Felindre was considered to have poorer infrastructure than Baglan, Mr Gyimah told a debate earlier in September: "For a category C prison, which would effectively be a resettlement prison, ease of access to employment is important, so that prisoners can be released on temporary licence and come back easily."

He added: "The minister cannot just start popping around the country running consultations for all the new prisons we are building."

Image caption Adam Price said that, for Mr Kinnock, "its rather a case of not in my business park"

Plaid Cymru's Adam Price called Mr Kinnock "the grand archduke of nimbyism".

"His attitude seems to be its not that he's against a super-prison in South Wales; it's rather a case of not in my business park", he said during a Plaid Cymru debate on the issue in the Senedd on Wednesday.

Bethan Jenkins, Plaid Cymru South Wales West AM, ahead of the debate, said: "We don't want another super prison in Wales. We need to reform the criminal justice system before building any new prisons."

But Suzy Davies, Conservative AM for the same area, attacked Plaid Cymru for talking about "importing prisoners as if they are some kind of toxic English commodity. I think its disgraceful".

Labour AM Lee Waters said he was "very uncomfortable with the proposal... and with the political games that are accompanying it", while Aberavon Labour AM and prison opponent David Rees said: "There's clearly no justice coming to Port Talbot from the Ministry of Justice".

Welsh Government Communities Secretary Carl Sargeant said it was "not a fait accompli" that it would sell the land for the prison.

He told AMs: "We were not part of the decision process that selected Baglan as a preferred site.

"The government is not playing a role in developing the prison or the role in the community.

"We have not sold the land to the Ministry of Justice or come to an agreement regarding the sale, or discussed the value.

"If alternative offers for the land come forward, there is nothing to prevent us from assessing the economic benefits of that," he added.

A vote taken on calls to oppose the prison was rejected - nine votes for to 41 against, with three abstentions.

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